St. Petersburg moves forward with new pier 'the Lens'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - St. Petersburg City Council voted 7-1 Thursday to approve a jury's ranking of a new pier design concept, and will begin negotiating with an architect from Los Angeles to build 'the Lens.'

Two weeks ago, the pier jury unanimously selected Michael Maltzan's design "The Lens" as the top ranked design of the three finalists.

Bjarke Ingels Group's "The Wave" finished second while West 8's "The Eye" came in third.

City council members discussed the rankings at a workshop on January 26, and passed a resolution today authorizing Mayor Bill Foster to negotiate an agreement for design services.

The city plans to tear dear down the Pier's famous ‘inverted pyramid' design that has been in place since 1973, and replace it with 'The Lens.'  They have allocated $50 million for the project.

The design features a loop that goes over the water with twin bridge paths and a view of an underwater reef.
Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch offere his thoughts on the Lens.  "Compared to the other two, I think the Lens is the best balance of affordability, attractive for local residents, and the lowest subsidy."

Talk of a new pier started in 2007. In recent months, residents were invited to weigh in, and jury members say the majority endorsed the Lens.

Susan Fainstein, the Professor from Harvard, said, "The ones who liked it were quite enthusiastic about it, I guess I would say."

The Wave also received positive reviews from the panel and was the second place pick.  It features more commercial space and more opportunities to generate revenue. The Lens is more about the view.

"It does very much play into the historical concept of the city, which is the waterfront as a park, recreation place for people to go," said James Moore, an architect.

Right now, the pier is in rough shape, and often criticized for the costly upkeep. 

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